June 3, 2023

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Everyone is announcing their divorce like a celebrity now

Photo illustration: by The Cut; Images: Getty Images

I finish is a series that explores what divorce looks like now – from Instagram ads to pet custody disputes.

When Reese Witherspoon announced that she was divorcing her husband of 12 years, Jim Toth, on Friday afternoon, she did so in the way we’d expect from an A-list celeb who takes on such a challenge. She posted a joint brief and conciliatory statement on Instagram and asked for privacy.

“We made the difficult decision to divorce with a great deal of care and attention,” the statement read, which was dropped just before the weekend — no doubt in order to minimize press coverage. “We have enjoyed many wonderful years together and move forward with deep love, kindness and mutual respect for everything we have created together.”

The post is closed, of course, for comments.

These days, this kind of statement is expected from celebrities who are going through a breakup. But announcing divorce on Instagram has become so stern that it’s no longer just for celebrities. Influencers, business leaders, and even “regular” people who aren’t famous have written statements on the Notes app to tell their followers of the end of their marriages. The tone of these statements varies, of course, but the sentiment is usually the same: the separated couple always moves forward with respect And love And if there are children involved, Amicably committed parenting.

The trend began with Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “conscious uncoupling” in 2014 and has become more prevalent with the advent of social media — Instagram, specifically. Now that celebrities can address fans directly on their own accounts, they are more likely to break news of the divorce themselves rather than leak it to the tabloids.

As expected, these statements have become open to interpretation by fans trying to read between the lines to find out what really happened behind the scenes. Do celebrities leave a comment on? How long did they keep the post before deleting? Did they use a bleak black and white color scheme or something a little brighter? What about emojis?

The phrases themselves are on a spectrum that runs from the haunting to the incredibly revealing: at the more conservative end you have one like Witherspoon, and at the sexier end you get something like Kate Bosworth A prose poem about whiskey which she posted to announce her divorce from director Michael Polish in 2021 (she’s now reportedly engaged to Justin Long). Fans will notice if the two estranged halves of the couple utter identical phrases or slightly different ones. When Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen announced their split last fall, they issued statements that are similar in content but very different in tone (Bündchen had a much brighter outlook).

Sometimes it’s the shortest phrase that says the most: When Shakira announced she was separating from husband Gerard Pique last summer, her announcement was terse and brutal, foreshadowing the bitter divorce battle to come. “We regret to confirm that we are parting ways,” she said. “For the well-being of our children, who are our top priority, we ask that our privacy be respected. Thank you for your understanding.”

Then, of course, there are the celebs whose breakups are too intense to make a statement at all: Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Emily Ratajkowski, and Sebastian Bear McClard.

With so many examples to draw inspiration from, it’s only natural for social media influencers to adopt the same kind of language announcing their divorce. Whether they have 5,000 followers or 5 million, in the past few years it has become quite normal for influencers to make divorce announcements on Instagram just like actresses and pop stars.

The posts themselves are likely to be revealing. Whether they’ve gained a following by posting about fitness, family, or beauty products, influencers are more likely to go into detail about their breakups than traditional celebrities. Even those with a relatively small following are prone to keeping their fans updated on developments in their personal lives. While A-list actresses may feel divorce is something to suppress, struggling influencers see it can be a huge personal brand opportunity.

For some, divorce is just another part of the “journey of personal growth” that they share with their followers. When Alessia Scauzillo, a fitness influencer with 25,000 followers on Instagram, shared the news of her breakup last month, she did so with a remix video showing her crying and leaving her partner, finally getting “stronger” with the caption “i chose me 🤍”

“At some point, we realized we were holding each other back,” Scozzello says in the video’s voiceover. “For my part, I was on the path to becoming the most authentic, pure, and authentic version of myself, which began with changing my career from finance to fitness and then blossomed into a complete transformation into how I wanted to live my life in an open, vulnerable, deep, loving, And an adventure. And he’s on his epic growth odyssey, too.”

This is a far cry from Witherspoon’s request for privacy. Instead, Scozzello called on her followers to relate to and even draw inspiration from her struggle. (Whether this attempt at motivational branding was successful is up for debate: One follower commented, “This isn’t inspiration… who fooled?”)

Lauren Chan, the model and influencer with 83,000 followers on Instagram, took a similar path when she announced her divorce last month on Valentine’s Day. Along with a set of professionally taken photos of her posing in a lacy white lingerie while looking at herself in the mirror, she wrote, “This Valentine’s Day has given me a push to think deeply about self-love – and I think this is the right moment to share that I’m getting a divorce. It’s a feeling.” So weird to feel like I need to share such a personal update with over 80,000 of you…but I can say I’ve withdrawn from people, in real life and on social media, because of that and I want to reconnect.”

Chan went on to say that her breakup involved “a process of emotional growth,” adding, “I had never been so proud of myself and my ex-husband for being so vulnerable, self-aware, and caring about ourselves and each other. IMO, we were honestly brave to embrace the fact that we needed a future for ourselves that was different from what It used to be.”

In the influencer’s words, divorce is an almost spiritual experience. But are these types of posts really necessary? For most influencers with a small to medium following, probably not. The average follower may not even register the influencer’s marital status at first. But some have such engaged fans that sharing a life update like a divorce might not feel like a choice.

When Joanna Goddard, founder of the wildly popular blog Cup of Jo, said, announced her divorce On her website last month, she indicated that she was getting involved, in part, because “some readers have sent messages and emails suggesting Alex hasn’t been mentioned lately and wondering if everything is okay.”

In a follow-up interview with The Cut, Goddard explained that she worried about how the divorce would fit with the stories she’d been telling about her life on the blog for years: “If you’re a really old reader, you’ve seen the whole story: I met Alex, we fell in love, he moved in, he proposed, We planned our wedding, we had a baby on our honeymoon. This whole story is the one that has been going on for so long. Will this disappoint people? Will it harm the site in some way?”

Probably not: Followers immediately began sharing their divorce stories in the comments, making it clear that this is just another relatable component of Goddard’s life.

But for some influencers, divorce isn’t that deep. This could be the perfect part to announce a new project. In January, Victoria Jameson, a TikTok beauty influencer with nearly a million followers, announced her divorce in a borderline straightforward manner on the platform. She posted a six-second video with the voiceover, “I just want one epic pic so my ex knows I have a better life without him.” caption? “Hard Coming Off: I’m Divorced. Take My Second Chance at Love on The Bachelor Premiering Jan. 23 on ABC.”

Jameson ultimately only lasted two weeks on the classic dating show, but her announcement gave her some public attention getting into it. Now, she’s posting short recaps of her limited time on the show on TikTok, where she’s garnered more followers with her brand new look as a single woman looking for love.

Whether divorce is a painful self-digging process or just an excuse to sign up for a dating show, for influencers, it’s always worth sharing. And as more and more “normal” people live their lives online, sharing marriages, children, and everything else, the divorce announcement on Instagram is bound to start popping up on the pages of friends and family members who don’t have many followers at all. Everyone loves the brand.

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